[ExI] Etymology of Critter's Dilemma

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Thu Aug 21 08:42:03 UTC 2008

On Thu, Aug 21, 2008 at 1:18 AM, Lee Corbin wrote:
> Honestly, a quick glance through this paper proves to
> me with about 90% probability that the reasoning and
> inferences drawn are completely fallacious.
> The basic reason is quite simple: the authors fail to account
> for a rather powerful theory developed in the late 1850's
> by the English biologist Charles Darwin, who suggested that
> species evolve to occupy "niches" in which their structural
> adaptations and behavioral strategies over time will converge
> optimally, with the only proviso that his new theory, called
> "evolution" often requires many tens of thousands or even
> millions of years for the optimal solution to be reached, during
> which time the environment changes only very little.

Heh! :)
I think you need more than a quick look to say that these professors
of Biological Science have never heard of Darwin and 'niches'.
'Niches' are what they have been studying for years.
Google on their names and see all the other papers and conference reports.

Besides, your definition of niches, seems to be saying that after
years of evolution everything is now fixed in its own niche in the
best of all possible worlds. It's not like that at all. Evolution is
ongoing now. The battle is a dynamic struggle that goes on every day.

> We may very well in this paper see the unwholesome effects
> of projecting human psychological processes into the minds
> of, say, insects.

No, they are studying populations and reporting what they find.

> Were this actually the case, then over time the species would
> "relocate" to the proper equilibrium. It's entirely possible that
> the professor has encountered this phenomenon in a new environment to which
> the species has not yet accommodated
> itself. Given the professor's evident lack of acquaintance with
> this old English theory, it wouldn't surprise me if he had placed
> species adapted to one environment into a slightly different
> environment superficially the same.

It is a dynamic process. Environments are 'slightly different' from day to day.
Species rise and fall with changes in the weather, etc.

> It's also rather clear to me that the peer-review process has
> fallen into pretty desperate straits, for while my observations
> here might seem pointed to us amateurs, professional biologists of the
> caliber of Dawkins or Hamilton would find
> all of this quite elementary.

The URI ecologist is the guest editor of an upcoming special,
three-article feature on "nonconsumptive predator effects on prey
dynamics" in the September issue of Ecology, the journal of the
Ecological Society of America. The articles were written as a result
of a working group convened by the National Center for Ecological
Analysis and Synthesis to examine the topic, which Preisser and
Bolnick co-chaired.

Possibly your dismissal of a whole field of study is a reflection of
your cursory scan of this article.
Reread and Google?


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